Alan Pulido back from the wilderness, tops Mexico Hot List
Alan Pulido's patience is finally paying off.
After months of fighting with Liga MX's Tigres over a potential breach of his contract and numerous games without a call-up to Olympiakos' game-day rosters, the 24-year-old has recently been given significant minutes by the Greek side during the past couple of months.
The striker has taken advantage of these opportunities and has not only garnered a few starting roles, but also some goals as well for the current first-place team. Little by little, Pulido is finding some rhythm and it will be interesting to see if Mexico manager Juan Carlos Osorio gives him an opportunity to return to the national team during the next few months.
With the striker stealing some of the headlines in Greece, let's check out this week's Mexico hot-list:
FW Alan Pulido, Olympiakos
Why he's here: In Sunday's 4-0 win over Atromitos, Pulido provided a goal and an assist during his 90 minutes on the pitch for Olympiakos. In his last four starts in all competitions for the Greek club, the striker has amassed three goals and two assists.
What this means: The confusion over his contract with Tigres that included an involvement from FIFA and the Court for Arbitration of Sport seemed to hinder his development over the past couple of years. That being said, the striker has used his recent opportunities, and if he can maintain his form, it wouldn't be too surprising to see him back in a national team jersey this year. He could also become an option to be one of the overage players in Mexico's Olympic squad.
DF Miguel Layun, Porto
Why he's here: Over the weekend, Layun cemented himself as one of the most important players in the Porto starting XI. With a goal, an assist and a pass that lead to an assist, the defender had a hand in all of Porto's goals during Sunday's 3-2 win over Moreirense. The defender now has 15 assists and three goals in 20 league games.
What this means: At the moment, the argument could easily be made that Layun is the most in-form Mexican playing. With numerous assists and goals, 2016 could truly be the year of Layun. Keep an eye on the player who could gain more notoriety in the Copa America this summer.
DF Cesar Montes, Monterrey
Why he's here: Despite the hype surrounding the 18-year-old Rayados defender, the youngster has yet to be unfazed by the attention or responsibility placed upon on him. During Saturday's 5-1 demolition of Veracruz, Montes was near-perfect in defense with his clearances and distribution of the ball going forward.
What this means: It is justifiably too soon for a senior national team call-up, but it wouldn't be too farfetched to assume that he is on the radar of the Olympic squad this summer. With a starting role in the current first-placed team in the league, there should be little arguments against sending him to the games in Rio de Janeiro.
DF Yasser Corona, Queretaro
Why he's here: Corona was possibly the worst player for Mexico during Feb 10th's 2-0 friendly victory over Senegal, and has yet to solidify a starting role for Queretaro. During last Friday's 2-2 draw against Tigres, the 28-year-old remained on the bench for Los Gallos Blancos.
What this means: The defender returned from an injury early last month and might need more time to find his rhythm. Queretaro manager Victor Manuel Vucetich has only started the player in two league games and still sees the recent national team call-up as an option for the bench. In retrospect, the match against Senegal may have hurt the player who was still looking to regain minutes with his club.
MF Carlos Pena, Chivas
Why he's here: After weeks of letting down fans and manager Matias Almeyda with underwhelming performances, Pena was benched during Chivas' 1-1 draw against Chiapas last Saturday. The midfielder only played during the last 18 minutes of the game and had little time to truly be a difference-maker for Los Rojiblancos.
What this means: Time will tell if Pena returns to the Chivas starting XI or if he will ever recreate the performances that once made him an undisputed starting player in the national team during parts of 2014. Unfortunately for the midfielder, El Tri is stacked with plenty of depth in the middle of the pitch, which will make it very difficult for him to return to the heights from a couple of years ago.
FW Jesus Corona, Porto
Why he's here: Hiding under the shadow of other Mexican standouts for Porto, Corona has gradually become less of an influential player in the starting XI. In his last nine games, the attacker has collected just one goal and assist. The player struggled during Sunday's victory and only played 45 minutes for his club -- his least amount of minutes in a league game since November of last year.
What this means: The attacker, who is just 23-year-old, is in a small slump for his club. Corona has an immense amount of potential and might just need a short break after immediately transitioning into the starting XI last year. That being said, in the near future, Corona will need to prove to manager Jose Peseiro that he deserves to play a more significant role in the team.
Cesar Hernandez covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @cesarhfutbol.